FINAL: Maccabi Hunter Haifa 67, Nahariya 63

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Blayzer’s 3 pointer keeps Greens alive with 4Q comeback over Ironi Nahariya

Box Score

After going 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, Captain Oz Blayzer buried his first 3-pointer of the night – the eventual game-winner – when it mattered most. With 25.8 seconds left in regulation, Blayzer’s triple put Maccabi Hunter Haifa back in front, 63-61, as the Greens used a 13-3 run to overcome Nahariya after trailing the visitors by 8 points early in the fourth quarter.  Nahariya’s Alex Young missed an open look at the basket, which would have tied the game.  Willy Workman was fouled but missed two free throw attempts.  But the Greens recovered the offensive rebound, and Zach Graham sealed the game at the line, as Maccabi prevailed 67-63 over Nahariya on Friday afternoon at Romema.

The Greens (8-20) snapped a six-game losing streak, as Barak Peleg earned his first win as Maccabi’s head coach.  Haifa is now two games behind 11th place Ironi Nahariya (10-18) and Bnei Herzliya (10-18) with five games remaining in the regular season.

“I feel that my players deserved the win today,” said Peleg after the game. “In any given game, one of the players will have to sacrifice himself, and really, whoever I feel is fighting and giving it their all, I’ll go with him.”

The Greens were paced by Angel Rodriguez who tallied 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.  Oded Brandwein notched 11 points, Graham recorded 10 points (8-of-8 from the line), and Blayzer finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds.  Trevor Gaskins added 9 points, and Reggie Buckner corralled a team-high 12 boards while chipping in 7 points in Haifa’s crucial victory.  Brandon Bowman did not play (coach’s decision).

Maccabi pulled down a season-high 55 rebounds, while holding Nahariya to 19 percent shooting from 3-point range, and 41 percent from the field.  The Greens struggled mightily themselves from long range, connecting on just 13 percent (4-of-31) from three, but did most of their damage inside – shooting 51 percent (18-of-35).

After a low-scoring first half, Maccabi held a 33-30 edge over Nahariya going into the break.  After former Haifa player Yiftach Ziv scored the first points of the second half, Gaskins got going with a 3-pointer and Rodriguez followed up with a bucket to increase the Greens’ lead to 38-32. Nahariya’s Ben-Zvi Shiffer nailed a 3-pointer to trim Haifa’s lead down to 42-41.  Gaskins and Rodriguez ensured that the Greens held a 46-44 lead going into the final period.

Nahariya’s Young opened the fourth with a bucket to tie the game.  The visitors used a 10-0 run to take a 58-50 lead, capped by a triple by Jonathan Skjoldebrand.  Zach Graham knocked down his first shot of the contest after the ball bounced off the top of the backboard and landed in the net.  Graham followed it up with drawing an intentional foul, making both free throws and a Rodriguez drive to the rim brought Haifa within 60-56.  Graham netted two more from the line to bring Haifa within one, 60-59, with 1:29 remaining in regulation.   Blayzer knocked down the huge 3-pointer as Haifa rallied in the final minute to notch a 67-63 victory.

The Greens will travel to Rishon Lezion on Monday in another critical game for the Greens.